Partly this is just my personal baggage speaking here, but that sort of thing ticks me off. My mother was thought to be "retarded" just because she was so ill with insanely chronic candida (which was entirely the doctor's fault for putting her on antibotics for literally years with no probiotics at all), and my dad was labeled schizophrenic and a number of other things. My husband was labeled ADHD and depressed and put on drugs in his teenage years. They tried to label me stuff and put me on pills, but I refused to take any of them, and ignored my counselors (thank goodness).
From my experience, it is society and its labels and biases that are the problem. Not people who are suffering from lack of vitamins, sunlight, human compassion, friendship, purpose in life, etc. Not people who happen to process information in a way that is incompatible with standardized testing and one-size-fits-all employment options.
I've made most of my meaningful friendships online. I think the internet has made it more possible than ever before to reach people of radically different cultures. I've played MMOs (online games) with people who I never would have otherwise interacted with, and in a few cases carried on friendships with people from radically different cultures, such as Japanese woman who was surprised to learn we don't eat cake on Christmas, and who was also bewildered by the concept of Christmas stockings.
I came across this post about friendship and it really struck me:
Most people don't know how to form functional relationships. When you are younger, you are more open because you haven't yet accumulated enough filters from adults and society. You are just starting to experience judgment from others ("That shirt is stupid", "That question was retarded.")
You have to tell children to shut up because they are too loud. You have to tell adults to speak up because they are too quiet.
Boundaries are necessary to growth. But most people grow up with improper boundaries placed upon them; society is very good at telling you want NOT to do (don't smoke, don't get bad grades, etc), but it's horrible at telling you what to do.
For example, think of all the myriad ways society punishes you for poor dating habits. Loser, loner, virgin, too ugly, too fat, too dumb, creepy, bad hygiene, etc. There are too many ways to count. But when it comes to actively give you the right direction, telling you the right way to date, society is conspicuously silent. Or you get the bullshit/impractical ("be confident, be yourself") advice that never works. Most of the time you end up in the friendzone revealing just how shitty that advice really is.
As you grow you adopt the same mentality that society has grown up with.
"DON'T do [insert bad action]...." "DO [insert generic impractical advice]"
As a result, most of your relationships are borne of convenience; you're located in the same place, you like the same sports, you have the same hobbies. And at a young age, you're open enough to share these things. You sit next to someone in class and you talk about your G.I. Joes or the TV shows you like with abandon. It's very easy to make friends because children are very up front with their expectations. They wear their happiness and displeasure on their faces and you can hear it in their voices very clearly. This makes managing relationships much easier.
But as you grow older and encounter more and more moral judgment, you close up more and more because you fear the rejection of others more and more. You become a neurotic people pleaser.
Also, people don't learn the difference between forming relationships around necessities versus forming relationships around commonalities. This is why most relationships are dysfunctional in nature; jocks hang with jocks. Art fags hang with art fags. Hipsters hang with hipsters. Blacks hang with blacks. Rich people hang with rich people, and so on. Everybody is on the look out for common cultural associations. Very few are ever taught to pay attention to their necessities.
Necessities are the basis for functional relationships. They are the people you actually miss when they leave, instead of the people you just wish you were around so you could have a little more fun with smoking weed or playing basketball.
When you form relationships around commonalities, you create options.
Optional people are different than essential people. Optional people are like your waiter; you think you need them because they are serving you food and it seems like they're important at the time. But in reality, you could replace them in an instant with any other common waiter standing around.
Essential relationships are formed around necessities.
These are satisfying relationships because they do more than just give you a good time. That actually meet your needs. Your mom and dad don't necessarily give you a fun time every day, but they meet your needs. Same with a spouse. Same with any person who you are very open with, who you discuss your necessities with and who can meet those necessities. These are the people that become essential to your life. This are the people that become your arm and your legs--when they are removed from your life, it hurts. This is the difference between a bond of convenience and a bond of necessity.
Everything we do in life, every activity, every decision, every action is related to fulfilling our needs. We don't smoke just for the hell of it, we don't parachute out of airplanes, we don't join the military, we don't play video games, we don't go to raves, we don't surf the internet, we don't post on reddit for fake internet points just because we can. All these things are attempts to fulfill our needs in some way. If we recognize this and get down to the core reasons behind our actions, we realize just how powerful necessity is in governing our lives.
The beauty of necessity is that everyone's needs are universal. Although there are different activities and different cultures around the world, they are all governed by the same attempt to meet the exact same necessities. If you understand this, it become much easier to aim at necessity when forming your relationships. It becomes much easier to form a relationship with anyone.
Commonalities are hit and miss. They give you a false sense of belonging. But they are options because you can switch out commonalities like changing hats. You can switch tennis for swimming. You can switch rich for poor. You can switch athlete for nerd. You can switch gang banger for girl scout. They are all equally optional designations and ultimately worthless distinctions.
Necessity on the other hand hits every single time. You don't have to guess what necessities the other person has because you have the exact same needs. Everyone on earth has the exact same needs. Forming relationships around necessities is much harder to do because it requires you to learn how to open up again, but it's also much simpler once you become skilled at it.
From the author of "The Principles That Govern Social Interaction".
What do I need? What do we all need? To be loved. To be understood. I think that is why I write. I am seeking love and understanding.